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Why Are Modern Bureaucracies Special? State Support to Private Firms in Early Eighteenth-Century France

  • Jean Beuve (a1), Eric Brousseau (a2) and Jérôme Sgard (a3)
Abstract

The Bureau du Commerce allocated rights and rents to private entrepreneurs via a mix of hierarchical division of labor and peer-based collegial deliberation. This set-up reflected an attempt to maximize information and expertise, but also allowed for the recognition of private rights and social interests. The final decisions of the Bureau (for or against each demand), and the qualitative arguments brought forward during the procedure, are robust predictors of eventual decisions. We see this result as an indication that impersonal, rational and informed decision-making could be obtained even within a patrimonialist, rent-seeking State.

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Footnotes
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Eric Brousseau benefitted from the support of the Governance and Regulation Chair at the University Paris Dauphine. Jérôme Sgard gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Scientific Advisory Board of Sciences Po.

Footnotes
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